Development of the student course cognitive engagement instrument (SCCEI) for college engineering courses
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Abstract Background Evidence shows that students who are actively engaged with learning materials demonstrate greater learning gains than those who are passively engaged. Indeed, cognitive engagement is often cited as a critical component of an educational experience. However, understanding how and in what ways cognitive engagement occurs remains a challenge for engineering educators. In particular, there exists a need to measure and evaluate engagement in ways that provide information for instructors to deploy concrete, actionable steps to foster students’ cognitive engagement. The present study reports the development and gathering of validation evidence for a quantitative instrument to measure students’ in-class cognitive engagement. The instrument was informed by Wylie and Chi’s ICAP (Interactive Constructive Active Passive) model of active learning, as well as contextual concerns within engineering courses. Results The process followed the classical measurement model of scale development. We provide a detailed overview of the item development and scale validation processes, focusing on the creation of individual subscales to measure different modes of cognition within learning contexts. Multiple rounds of testing the student course cognitive engagement instrument (SCCEI) in college engineering courses provided evidence of validity. This indicated the reliable measurement of student cognitive engagement in the context of notetaking, processing material, and interacting with peers in the classroom. Results suggest differentiating modes of cognitive engagement is indeed applicable when considering students’ in-class notetaking and processing of material. Conclusions Findings point towards the need for additional engagement scales that expand the instrument’s ability to distinguish between particular activities within a mode of engagement as defined by ICAP. The present study contributes to the growing body of literature on cognitive engagement of engineering students. Results address the development of measurement tools with evidence of validity for use in STEM education.